Isle of Capri Natchez announces October casino closure, sale of hotel to Magnolia Bluffs Casino

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, August 11, 2015

NATCHEZ — Isle of Capri Casinos announced Tuesday it will close its Natchez casino  and has entered into an agreement to sell its hotel assets to Casino Holding Investment Partners, the parent company of Magnolia Bluffs Casino in Natchez.

The sale will be for approximately $11.5 million, and is expected to close in October. Company officials said the facility is expected to remain fully operational until its closure and will honor all room reservations and events until then.

“We are proud of all that we have accomplished together, and we thank our team members for their dedication and hard work in the many years we have operated in Natchez,” said Virginia McDowell, the Isle of Capri’s president and chief executive officer.

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Magnolia Bluffs officals said during the closure, the hotel will be renovated with the goal of opening some floors in the first quarter of 2016.

“We are excited to rebrand the Isle of Capri Hotel and offer the same personalized service and attention we are known for in our casino to the new “Magnolia Bluffs” hotel,” said Kevin Preston, President of Magnolia Bluffs Casino. “We are committed to delivering the best possible experience to everyone who steps through our door.”

Representatives of the Mississippi Gaming Commission said Tuesday the commission has been working with the companies.

“Our deputy director and executive director have been working with the properties and the attorneys over the details that we (the commission) regulate as far as the purchase goes,” MGC Executive Division Staff Officer Rob Vickery said.

MGC Deputy Executive Director Jay McDaniel said the commission has been working through, “whatever it is the companies want to do.”

McDaniel said no applications for changes or restructuring at either casino have been submitted yet.

“We require plans when ownership changes, submissions for any kind of new structure or anything like that, making sure anything that needs to be approved through the commission is done correctly,” he said. “Typically a company makes a decision and we help them work through it.”

The Isle of Capri has owned the Natchez property, a dockside casino with 520 slot machines and six table games, since 2000. The operation was previously operated by another company as Lady Luck Casino, which opened in 1993. It generated $23 million in revenue in fiscal year 2015, but a company snapshot published in June noted that since Magnolia Bluffs Casino opened in December 2012 the Isle of Capri’s gaming revenues in Natchez have declined — even as overall company revenues increased 5 percent in 2015.

The Isle of Capri leases approximately 24 acres of land in connection with the Natchez operations, paying an annual rent of approximately $1.1 million. The company also leases approximately 7.5 acres for parking and owns six additional acres and the property in which its hotel is located.